Esoteric Freemasonry

A collection of observations and insights into the mystical world of ancient craft masonry.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Lost Keys of Freemasonry

“The Lost Keys of Freemasonry, or The Secret of Hiram Abif” by Manly Palmer Hall, 33°, is both an interesting and perplexing text. In my humble opinion, it is one that all Masons ought to pay particular attention to. It was written in the early 1900’s and originally published in 1923. He writes extensively on the origins of the Craft which, he states, dates back to a time prior to the establishment of the great religions of the world. It is interesting to note that, at the time of publication, Bro. Hall had not yet been made a Mason. He was a student of comparative religion, and it was through those pursuits that he became familiar with the secret philosophical schools and societies of ancient times. His studies led him to conclude that the ancient mystery schools were the custodians of a universal wisdom, and that modern Freemasonry was borne of those sacred institutions.

The first chapter proper, titled “The Eternal Quest”, opens thus: “The average Mason, as well as the modern student of Masonic ideals, little realizes the cosmic obligation he takes upon himself when he begins his search for the sacred truths of Nature as they are concealed in the ancient and modern rituals. He must not lightly regard his vows, and if he would not bring upon himself years and ages of suffering he must cease to consider Freemasonry solely as a social order only a few centuries old. He must realize that the ancient mystic teachings as perpetuated in the modern rites are sacred, and that powers unseen and unrecognized mold the destiny of those who consciously and of their own free will take upon themselves the obligations of the Fraternity.”

When I first read this opening chapter I was stricken, not only by the profound nature of its subject matter, but by the simplicity and beauty of the chapter’s title. I feel that the notion of an eternal quest is a wonderful and uplifting way to characterize our journey in life, both as individuals and as Masons. This quote also brings to mind the teachings of the 2nd degree, wherein we are encouraged to study the hidden mysteries of nature and science in an effort to determine the sacred truths. The author reminds us not to take our obligations lightly, and to realize that our order is so much more than a simple gentlemen’s club.

There is another chapter in the book called “The Qualifications of a True Mason” and it contains some incredible insights, especially for a young brother such as myself. It provides the reader a certain frame of reference for his noblest aspirations. Allow me to provide you with another brief quote: “Every true Mason has come into the realization that there is but one Lodge – that is, the Universe – and but one Brotherhood, composed of everything that moves or exists in any of the planes of Nature.” I must say that I was utterly dumbfounded upon reading this, as this is an idea I have carried with me for as long as I can recall. I have always believed in the cosmic oneness of all things, and that the spark of God that is the essence of Life is contained in all of His creations. So mote it be.